Entries Matching: Public Safety

PK Urges FCC to Prevent Emergency Wireless Service Interruptions

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This week, Public Knowledge, along with the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and several other public interest groups, urged the FCC to ensure that neither government agencies nor wireless providers shut down communications in an emergency.

The comments, also signed by the Benton Foundation, Free Press, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Minority Media Telecommunications Council, and the Open Technology Institute of the New America Foundation, respond to the FCC's Notice of Inquiry, which asked about what procedures should be followed when government wanted to shut down communications during a crisis.

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Government-Ordered Wireless Shutdowns: Possibly Unconstitutional, Likely Illegal, Never a Great Idea

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As Kara noted last week, the FCC is asking you to comment on when it's appropriate for government agencies to cut off cellular services in the interests of public safety. For a variety of reasons, my initial answer to that is "rarely, if ever." Aside from definite knowledge of a cell phone-triggered bomb, or a freak occurrence where the 800-900MHz range somehow interfered with a pacemaker, it just doesn't seem like a particularly good idea. There's a host of reasons why, and a lot of them were argued in the wake of BART's October shutdown of cell service in anticipation of a protest. But this isn’t about BART; it’s about preventing future unnecessary shutdowns.

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Public Knowledge Applauds FCC Notice On Public Safety Wireless Cutoff

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge:

“The Federal Communications Commission yesterday asked for public comment to determine the proper policy when government authorities intentionally disrupt wireless service.  The notice came about as a result of the actions on August 11, 2011 when the San Francisco-area Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) cut off wireless service, claiming a threat to public safety.

“We are pleased that the Commission is looking into this very important issue.  On August 29, 2011, Public Knowledge, along with Broadband Institute of California, Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for Media Justice, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Media Access Project, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, and National Hispanic Media Coalition, asked the Commission to rule whether the action by BART authorities was legal under the Communications Act.

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Public Knowledge Urges FCC to Prevent Future BART-like Shutdowns

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Today, Public Knowledge, joined by a wide variety of consumer, civil rights, and civil liberties groups, urged the FCC to immediately pass rules that would prevent local authorities from ordering a shutdown of wireless services the way that BART did earlier this month. As Harold’s earlier blog post points out, we don’t even need to get to the (extremely pressing and important) First Amendment issues to find that BART’s actions violated the law—the Communications Act, to be precise.

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